The Police Service Commission (PSC) in Antigua and Barbuda will appeal a High Court judge’s decision that the firing of former Commissioner of Police Wendell Robinson and the appointment of his successor were both unconstitutional.
The PSC issued a statement after Justice Ann-Marie Smith ruled, in the constitutional motion filed by Robinson, that his termination and the appointment of current Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney were unlawful, null and void. She had also set April 30 as the date for the award of damages to the former top cop.
Robinson was fired in November 2019 and stripped of his pension, gratuity and other allowances he would have accumulated during almost 33 years of service in the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, after being suspended amidst allegations of misconduct in April 2018. The Dominican-born Rodney took up duties in February 2020.
After Justice Smith’s ruling on Thursday, the PSC applied for a stay on the judgment pending an appeal. March 31 has been set for hearing that application.
“The Police Service Commission acknowledges the important and indispensable role of the court in the delivery of justice to persons who are aggrieved at the decisions of public authorities. However, the Police Service Commission’s findings on the declaration made by Her Ladyship the Honorable Madame Justice Ann Marie Smith concerning, and on account of this concern, is mounting an appeal against the decision of Her Ladyship,” the PSC said in a statement.
“Her Ladyship has agreed with the contention of the Police Service Commission that the constitutional motion of Mr Robinson ought to be struck, but then proceeded to make administrative orders on the claim. The Police Service Commission will ask the Court of Appeal to review Her Ladyship’s decision to determine if such a decision was right in law.”
However, Robinson told the Daily Observer newspaper that he felt vindicated by the judge’s ruling.
“I was elated and not surprised, but it is a pity that persons have to fight so hard for justice, and even when they fight it seems like these unwarranted forces are pushing back because it was as clear as the daylight that the PSC was wrong and continues to be wrong,” he said.
The decision of the court means that, technically, Robinson is still Commissioner of Police.
However, he told the newspaper he did not want to return to the Antigua and Barbuda Police Force.
“But what this decision means – and even if it reaches right up to the Privy Council, and if the Privy Council rules that my termination was unlawful – it means that the officeholder, Wendel Robinson, remains the Commissioner and is entitled to all salaries, so it is a matter for those persons in authority to make a decision and take leadership in the matter and deal with it,” he said.
Robinson took up the post of Commissioner of Police in March 2016.